Food Combinations That Are Digestively Incompatible


There are plenty of tips on what food combinations are risky for digestive disruptions such as stomach aches, gas and impaired nutrient absorption. Doctors and nutritionists say there’s little to worry about, however.

“For healthy people, it really doesn’t matter what (foods) they combine,” says gastroenterologist Dr Wolfgang Holtmeier. “Most people can indiscriminately eat whatever they like.”

The sequence in which you eat foods can have some consequences, though, he points out. Salad and fruit, for example, are digested comparatively quickly, so it’s best not to eat them at the end of a meal.

“Meat and fish remain in the stomach longer, causing a blockage, which could lead to fermentation processes, abdominal pain and flatulence,” Dr Holtmeier says.

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Eating certain foods alone, especially early in the morning, can have negative effects as well, he adds. “Smoothies high in fruit, on an empty stomach, aren’t a good idea at all. The fructose they contain quickly exceeds levels that we can absorb efficiently.”

It’s better, Dr Holtmeier says, to always eat fruit in combination with proteins and fats for breakfast, with yogurt, for example.

Not every kind of fruit can be combined unproblematically with dairy products, though. “If you eat acidic fruits such as kiwis together with yogurt, they taste quite bitter,” notes nutritionist Monika Bischoff.

As for the old belief in some countries that you shouldn’t drink water after eating cherries, she says it was debunked a long time ago.

“This combination has no adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Problems that occurred earlier may have been caused by germs in the drinking water, or the cherries.” If the fruit has been washed and the water is clean, there shouldn’t be any problems, she says.

Caution is advised only when any food is combined with alcohol. A beneficial combination, on the other hand, is meat and orange juice – or another food or drink high in vitamin C. “The body is better able to absorb iron when vitamin C is ingested at the same time,” Bischoff explains.

If you’d like to prepare cabbage so that it’s more easily digestible, there’s the tried-and-true combination with caraway seeds.

“The caraway seeds limit the formation of gases when the components of cabbage-family vegetables are broken down,” explains Heiko Griguhn, a nutritionist and certified dietary adviser.

All combination tips aside, food compatibility varies from person to person and depends on many different factors.

“Everyone develops likes and dislikes for certain foods during their lifetime,” Griguhn says, adding that you’ll often know pretty quickly whether it was a good idea to eat a particular food or food combination. “Our body lets us know when it doesn’t tolerate something.” – dpa

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